We have known Michael and Kelly for years and have been customers of Tanner Jacks since Michael’s parents Jack (the Jack portion of the name) and Lauren owned the place, in fact I used to work for their parent company Tanner Jacks Inc. But it’s been a while since we’ve been up to Tanner Jacks mostly because it is located on the Mesa between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo. Sunday night Doug had a craving for steak so up to the Mesa we went.
Years ago I told Michael that I couldn’t find a chicken fried steak on the coast that even came close to the one that the hole in the wall local landmark the Way Station in my old home town of Santa Clarita, makes. So Michael set about to putting one on the menu. Initially the chicken fried steak was only part of the Sunday brunch menu, but now it appears to have been made it’s way on to the regular menu so of course I had to try it.
The night started with “Lauren’s Pomegranate Passion Martini” which is essentially the equivalent of a passion fruit Jolly Rancher. It’s made with PAMA liquor, Hpnotiq, Seagram’s Vodka, lime, a splash of cranberry juice then shaken not stirred. This makes for a refreshing, tropical, sweet drink with just a touch of tartness from the pomegranate that is rounded out by the musky, guava like flavor of the passion fruit and a sugared rim to add extra sweetness.
We ordered the Fried Pickles which I LOVE. Normally it’s served with a side of spicy peanut sauce but I happen to like it best with their signature Wild n Sassy sauce which is almost like a citrus, habanero aioli, it’s tangy with a little bite but not hot and goes incredibly well with the pickles. The dill pickle spears are breaded then deep fried but I am giving you fair warning; when they come to the table they look harmless enough but do not bite into them right away, let them cool or cut them open and wait a moment otherwise you’re going to scald the inside of your mouth. Next came the Wedge salad with BBQ ranch dressing which is essentially ranch dressing blended with barbeque sauce that imparts a smokey sweetness to the salad dressing.
Finally the Chicken Fried Steak came to the table and was quite tasty. The gravy was peppery and spicy with a rich smooth creamy texture. One trapping I’ve noticed with some gravies that I really dislike is when it is overly floury or has a weird gelatinous look and feel to it; this was NOT that way at all, it was exactly the right consistency. The steak was cooked perfectly. The breading was crisp but not soggy or greasy on the outside and the steak it’s self was moist and juicy inside. The garlic mashed potatoes came smothered with the pepper gravy. They keep the skin on but they’re well seasoned and not lumpy.
I still haven’t found a chicken fried steak like the one at the Way station, but when the craving hits me at least I know I can hit up Tanner Jacks.
Health – what my friends are always drinking to before they fall down.